Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Problems That Every Writer Will Have Come Across

I've been writing a lot of deep stuff lately so I thought I'd have a bit more of a laid back post which will, hopefully, put a smile on a few people's faces. So, I give you...

Problems That Every Writer Will Have Come Across

Image from Google

1."What do you do?" "I write." "Oh..."
Ok, raise your hand if you've ever been in the following situation: you've been sat talking for someone for a while and it's going alright until they find out what you do. When you tell them you're a writer you get one of four reactions:
  • A polite yet uncertain smile (usually followed by different variations of "How nice...")
  • The conversation quickly trails off (usually with the person looking about the room for someone else to speak to)
  • The "Oh, are you are journalist/ do you write novels?" question (9 times out of 10 it will be the one you don't do) or...
  • Lips thin, disapproval clear on their face (because why don't you do something meaningful with your life?)
Yep, we've all been there- I swear it's a writer's rite of passage or something...

2. "Why won't you come out?"  "I'm writing."
I admit it, I hold my hands up, I am a self-confessed hermit. But when you have just one more chapter to finish or you have a word count that you just need to get done then writing takes over. People don't always get it (especially when I was younger and all of my friend's were going to parties or going out clubbing) but it's all just a part of our craft. It can be a pain sometimes but we love it all the same. Speaking of being a pain...

3. Writer's Block
Who hasn't been here, seriously? If you simply type this phrase into Google you'd be amazed how many results come up. You find yourself sat there, staring at the page and your mind is completely blank. The thought of stringing words together to form (dare I say it?) sentences seems completely impossible. The characters in your head won't co-operate or do anything that you ask them to and as the plot... what's a plot again?

4.Caffeine Addiction/ Dependency
Writing is not a nine to five career, as we all well know. Inspiration can come at anytime while deadlines can cause unsociable working hours so caffeine can be a beautiful, wonderful thing.
Coffee, tea you name it- chances are you have a favourite drink, probably a favourite 'writer mug' too.

5.Being An Avid People WatcherAt first you don't realise you are doing it. You are sat there minding your own business when suddenly a conversation catches your ear. Before you know it you're invested. It isn't long before you find yourself watching people's mannerisms: the tapping of feet, the nervous twitch of a smoker waiting for their next cigarette. (Read more about these habits here)
That's only a few of many. If you have anymore suggestions for the list, make sure to leave a comment!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Why Your Comfort Zone Isn't Necessarily Your Friend

I wanted to wait until after I'd had my second ever driving lesson this morning before talking about this issue.

For a lot of people, their comfort zone is there comfort blanket- they don't want to step away from it and are more than happy to clink to it and feel secure. It's natural, it's expected and, sometimes, it's OK.

But, and it's a big but, when that comfort zone starts to hold you back you've got a problem. Suddenly the comfort zone goes from a feeling of safety to a barrier holding you back. You find yourself clinging to the comfort blanket, unwilling to let it go.

But there's something important that you need to know about the comfort zone: You can't progress as a person unless you try new things- you can't expand your comfort zone unless you push the boundaries.

Image from Google

This morning, as I mentioned before, I had my second ever driving lesson. I had a sample lesson week but I was still really unsure- I was anxious, I was scared and I was unbelievably out of my comfort zone. I was still unsure at the end of the session and part of me wanted to run back to that comfort zone and hide there but I was determined to try it again, just one more time, so that I could decide what I wanted to do.

So, there I was this morning- admittedly, having metaphorical kittens but there- and I gave it another go. I did it and now it doesn't seem so scary. It doesn't seem so scary- so out of reach. It's becoming a part of my comfort zone.

Think of your comfort zone as a muscle. For that muscle to become stronger and to become more sturdy, you have to exercise it. You have to push yourself.

While I'm not completely writing off the comfort zone- as it can be really important to not be forced into situations that you are really not comfortable with and have some sense of self-awareness for your emotional and mental well-being- it is also important to recognise that it can hold you back if you rely on it too heavily.

So, here is my challenge to you: Do one thing this week that is out of your comfort zone. Whether that be going out and trying something new or having a long awaited conversation. Whatever it is, just go for it- expand your comfort zone.

Besides you don't know unless you try, right?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Why Hard Work And Faith Go Hand In Hand

Confused? Let me elaborate...

Let's start with hard work. Hard work is obviously very important if you want to achieve your ambitions but, if you're not careful, you can lose sight of what you were working towards in the first place. You can become overwhelmed with the situation that you've landed yourself in and find yourself eager for a way out.

With faith- also known as belief- too much can cause inaction. If you sit back and wait for things to happen- if you have the belief that 'it will happen one day' but never take any action to achieve that goal then nothing will happen. Most things won't fall onto your lap- you have to work for them.

Imagine that you're trying to start your own business.

Hard work is obviously needed to build up a client list or a product and to get a budget but if you are keeping your head down and battling on, you never take the time to look at alternative methods and to take risks. You'd find yourself stressed and not enjoying achieving your ambition.

Alternatively, if you were to focus on faith alone then you would never build up the foundations that are needed to achieve the business and you would fail to make connections. Admittedly, you may be willing to take more chances and to reap more rewards but you wouldn't have the necessary tools to retain a functioning business which can cause issues.

You need both.

Image from Google & capitalfm
Take Andy Murray. It goes without saying for him to have won Wimbledon he would have had to have worked incredibly hard and trained pretty much constantly. It would have been tough- chances are he thought he couldn't do it a couple of times but it was down to his faith that he could win, down to his belief that he could do well that he got there in the end.

We are all guilty of not getting the balance right- maybe we've been pushing ourselves too hard or just sitting back and crossing our fingers that things will work out because we can't quite bring ourselves to deal with them. But, you know what? It's OK in moderation. It's when one of these attitudes take over our lives that the problems kick in.

How do you know that you haven't got the balance right? Simple. Think of your goal and then ask yourself: are you satisfied at this point of the journey to achieving it?

If not, why?
Are you too stressed? Have you been working at it none stop?
Or maybe you haven't done anything towards it? Is the cursor still waiting for you to type the first word or that box with your ideas gathering dust?
Then you take things from there.

Have a think about it, you could be doing yourself a big favour.

What is your biggest challenge in finding a balance? Share your thoughts below!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Why Rejection Isn't Always A Bad Thing

When most people think of rejection, they take it personally. We tend to look internally at ourselves and try to find the flaw that must have been the cause of the bad news.

When we are turned down for a job opportunity.

When we are turned down for a date.

Even when we receive rejection letters (as I did earlier!)

The truth is, it happens to us all. Even to the people who are now incredibly successful.

Take J K Rowling. She was rejected twelve times for her book (ever heard of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone?) until her lucky break came in the form of an editor's little girl. She read the first three chapters and begged her father to let her read the rest of the book. J K Rowling had her chance but not without the final warning from the editor to 'get a day job as she had little chance of making money in children's books'.

Image from www.telegraph.co.uk
Not bad, eh?

Rejection is a part of life but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's 'game over'. In fact, the majority of the time, it is just a step closer to success.

So, you've been turned down for a job? But, you know what? It is inevitable that you will get one.

You are turned down for a date? Who hasn't? But how many times have you heard of people finally meeting their perfect partner?

Received a rejection letter? Look at J K Rowling!

Imagine life's challenges as a wide, fast flowing river. Rejection makes up the stepping stones that help you to make your way to success which is on the other side.
With each rejection- with each step- you can learn something, whether that be how to better present yourself or how to improve on certain things, which can gradually help you to reach your goal.

Rejection helps us. Instead of taking it personally, think on what could have been done differently in an objective way. It can be difficult but try to step away and watch the scene, whether that be an interview or a conversation, as though you are a third party.

And if you can't find anything? It's their loss- you did the best you could and that's all you can do.

Take a moment to think back on a time where you have been rejected and see if you can find how it's benefitted you further down the line.

Thought of something? Let me know below!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Grab The Steering Wheel On The Adventure That's Life

Too often in life, we drift. We sit back and just let things run there course, only occasionally taking a change of direction or considering taking a different route. In a lot of ways, we're passengers. We sit back and watch our lives go by.

But, I ask you this: why don't we grab the steering wheel? Why don't we take a hold of our own lives and go where we want to go? Whether that be the path less taken or maybe something that many people would discourage?

It's our life.

In the words of Kate Winslet's character in 'The Holiday':

"You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god's sake."

Yet so many of us just sit back and rely on autopilot.

Take a hold of the wheel- take a hold of your own life and, most of all, enjoy it.

Image from Google

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Making The Most Of The Present For A Better Future

In life we spend so much time looking back at what has been and where we are going that we tend to let the present pass us by.

We become distracted by our concerns and worries that we miss so much of our life by panicking over where we're going. Before we know it, days have slipped by without us noticing.

How often do we spend our time willing the day to end? Or for the end of the week to arrive?

Savour the present.

While it's important to see how far we've come and to have a rough idea of where we're going (see here for more details on that) we miss out on so much.

The tricky thing with the present is that once the moments have passed, they've gone- you can't get them back.

When was the last time you took the time to savour the moment? To look at the sky, to go out for a walk and savour the scenery or even just taking the time to sit down with the family and have a catch up?

Maybe it's time to start.

This week I set you a challenge: take a moment- just one moment- everyday and embrace it. It's up to you what you do: it could be anything from trying something different to having a nice talk with the family.

Make the most of today because once it's gone, it's gone.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Stop Crying And Start Trying

This isn't going to be a friendly post. For a lot of people, this isn't going to be easy to hear but sometimes we need to hear the truth. It can be a bitter pill to swallow but it's necessary.

We all have times where we feel like we can't hack it. Things can get too much and we feel as if we're going to buckle under the pressure.

In time like this we have three options:

  1. Scream and shout how life isn't fair, complain to anyone who will listen only for nothing to change.
  2. Mope about, repeat to yourself the mantra that you'll get there one day only for nothing to change.
  3. Take action, have set goals in place and physically go out and complete them so you achieve your ambitions.

Which one are you going to choose? No brainer, right? But you'd be amazed how many people end up going with options 1 and 2 without even realising it.

Why? Because they're focussing too much on the injustice of it all rather than taking positive steps to rectify the situation. They focus on the problems and not the solutions.

Image from foodbeast.com
I first came across the phrase 'Stop crying and start trying' on that little slip of paper you find in a fortune cookie.

To be honest, I happened to read it at a time where I thought I was doing alright in life. Yeah, things weren't perfect and there were a few things that I wanted to change but I was getting by.

It's amazing how such a simple statement can make you think.

I ended up thinking about what I wasn't happy with and how I could change them. I took the time to look at the situation and realised I didn't have to put up with things I didn't want to- I could start a plan of action to make things better.

Stop crying and start trying.

Now read that again.

We waste so much time thinking on what we will do one distant day in the future, that we put up with a lot in the process. Yet what is it that we actually do to improve things for ourselves? Do we take a stand and take active choices to reach our dreams? Or do we sit by and hope that it will just happen one day?

Stop crying and start trying.
  • You want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Start training, look at your budget and see how much equipment and tickets are!
  • You want to start your own business? Talk to people who already have and learn as much as you can; read as many books as possible and get a plan together!
  • You want to travel the world? Get a map and pinpoint everywhere you want to go, look at tickets and accommodation!
Life is one big risk (as I've already mentioned here) so why do we allow it to pass us by as we wait for things to happen?

If life is a risk, then we need to improve our chances and no one ever achieved their dreams by sitting back and doing nothing.

So, go on! Stop crying and start trying!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Why Writing, Much Like Life, Is One Great Big Risk

A problem that many (if not all) writers find is choosing the right word or turn of phrase for their writing.

We can hesitate over entire chapters, umm-ing and ahh-ing as to whether they should be included and even if they 'work' at all. Or, alternatively, if our audience- whoever that be- will appreciate what we're trying to get across.

The same can be said in life. We can struggle with ourselves over choices that need to be made and can have serious problems when it comes being bold and standing by them. As people, we sometimes worry over how these decisions will make us look in the eye's of others and can find ourselves suddenly trying to please everyone.

And, as we all know, it is impossible to please everyone.

Image from Google

The truth is, life- just like writing- is one great big risk. Although we would like to we have a general idea of where we're going to end up, things aren't always as simple as that and can end up changing completely.

Things can go wrong, we can make the wrong decisions or wish we did things differently. That is the beautiful complexity of life. The majority of the time, we are just crossing our fingers and hoping that things will go our way.

That we will continue receive work and be in employment.

That we will one day meet the person of our dreams.

That we will end up achieving what we strive for.

But, the thing is, none of the above are guaranteed.

We can lose our job at any time. We might never meet the person of our dreams or ever get what we hope for. It's just the risk we have to take.

Life is one great big risk so sometimes we just have to go for it. Take a risk- do something a bit different, take that chance!

We have to make the most of it- despite other people's disapproval or criticism- because if we don't it's a life that's been only been half lived and no one wants that.


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Stop Waiting For The Dream To Happen- Go And Get It!

In life, we spend a lot of our time waiting for things to happen. We wait for opportunities to arrive, we wait for the 'right time'- we even wait for the future.

But, what if we were to stop waiting? What if we were to stop hanging around hoping that the thing that we are craving for- the thing that we are dreaming of, would hurry up happen and actually go out and make it?

Why the hell shouldn't we?

Image from Google

When we think of an idea that really gets us excited we can't stop smiling- we're brimming with passion over what we can do and how we can do it when suddenly... 'reality' hits.
  • "How is this going to really happen, though?"
  • "Can I really afford it?"
  • "What if it doesn't work?"
  • "What if no one is interested?"
  • "Is this just silly?"
  • "Maybe I shouldn't do it after all..."
Sound familiar?

In the space of a few moments that idea, which was causing you to brim over with excitement, now looks like a terrifying unreachable fantasy that you can't get away from fast enough.

It is this tailspin that causes regret, bitterness and cause those- oh so dangerous- phrases to rear their ugly heads: "I wish," and "If only I'd..."

The harsh reality is, unless you tackle this way of thinking, you're not going to do anything. You're going to be stuck in a permanent state of frustration where nothing is ever going to change and you're never going to progress and grow as a person.

Rather than allow yourself to be swept away by the reasons why you shouldn't do something, list the reasons you should.

  • "This could be an amazing opportunity where I gain some great memories and have new experiences."
  • "This could be fantastic for my career."
  • "It could give my confidence a real boost."
  • "I might learn something new."
  • "I could meet some new people and make amazing friends."
  • "This might help me to achieve my dream."

"There is no worse ghost than one of an opportunity that was never taken." 

(feel free to tweet that)
I now live by that phrase.
It was one of those lines that pop into your head and it's stuck with me ever since. It pushes me to go for things- to take a chance and do things rather than spend the rest of my life kicking myself for not giving it a go.

Don't let dreams pass you by- otherwise, you may end up regretting it.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

How The Little Ways Of Saying Thank You Can Make A Big Difference

I'm about to ask you a question now and I want you to seriously consider the answer...

When was the last time that you did something or said something to show someone that you genuinely love them?

I'm not talking about the generic "I love you." as you're parting ways or a quick kiss as you're about to walk through the door, but a real moment where you shown someone how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them being in your life.

Image from Google
For me, this moment happened on Friday. I'd decided that I wanted to get someone a couple of small gifts just to say thank you for all of the help and support they had given me lately. They were nothing extravagant- one happened to be something that she was considering buying anyway- but I could see how much they meant to her. I could tell how touched she was that I'd taken the time to show her how I felt.

You hear a lot about big gestures that people make but what about the small ones? What about the small acts of kindness that help to brighten someone's day or make them feel appreciated and like they do matter.

And you know what? If you show someone that kindness, if you show someone that there is good in the world, chances are they'll pass it around. They might start to think on how they can brighten someone's day.

It doesn't take a lot- maybe just a cup of coffee to say thank you but, I promise you, it makes a big difference.

How can you show someone how much you love them and who would it be? Let me know below!